Djed Spence next? Tottenham’s last 10 signings from the Football League

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Tottenham Hotspur FC's John Bostock during pre-season v FC Barcelona at Wembley Stadium, London, England. 24 July 2009.

Tottenham are reportedly closing in on the transfer of wing-back Djed Spence and the omens are good – Spurs have enjoyed plenty of success in signing some of the best talents from the Football League in years gone by.

Not all of the Lilywhites’ buys from the EFL have been great, but there’s never any guarantee and the performances of some of the players listed below have more than justified the occasional flop.

Spence, who looks set to complete a £20million move from Middlesbrough following a successful loan spell at Nottingham Forest, will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of two successful Spurs full-backs in particular.

Here, we’ve taken a look back at Spurs’ last 10 signings from Football League clubs to see how they got on.

Note: we’ve excluded players signed from clubs just relegated from the Premier League – such as Moussa Sissoko – and have only included young players signed initially for the academy if they had already made senior debuts at their previous clubs.

Chris Gunter

Gunter has had a fine career, becoming Wales’ most-capped player in history, but the full-back’s club career has largely been spent in the Championship.

Joining Tottenham from Cardiff City for £2million in January 2008, Gunter was still just 18 and considered a hot prospect.

He made just 16 appearances in all competitions for the north Londoners but looks back on his stay in a positive light, reflecting in 2012: “I had a brilliant time at Tottenham, it is a great club and I learned so much there so I was really thankful.”

Gareth Bale

Never heard of him.

Danny Rose

Unlike fellow Leeds United academy products Michael Woods and Tom Taiwo, Rose rejected a move to Chelsea a year prior to joining Tottenham in 2007.

Unlike Woods and Taiwo, Rose went on to fulfil his potential in London, making over 200 appearances for Tottenham and becoming an England regular, even if things went a bit sour towards the end.

READ: What happened to the two starlets Chelsea poached from Leeds in 2006

John Bostock

Having made his senior Crystal Palace debut aged just 15, Bostock was tipped to one day captain England. His career has been far more nomadic than expected; at the age of 30, his current club Doncaster Rovers are the 14th team he has appeared for, taking in spells in Canada, Belgium, France and Turkey along the way.

The midfielder was on Spurs’ books for five years but made just four first-team appearances, none of which came in the Premier League, and was loaned out five times.

In 2019, Bostock told L’Equipe he should never have left Palace for Spurs at such a young age, saying: “My agent, my family, people put a lot of pressure on me to leave. It was not my choice. There were different reasons I left, including the pressure of money. But I think I should have stayed there because I had chances to play. If I could go back, I would stay.

“Now that I’m older, I appreciate those hard times because they helped me become stronger. But, initially, they [unsuccessful loan spells] almost broke me.

“There was even one time I was close to stopping. When you love something so hard and it does not work, there is nothing worse. It’s not that I did not like this sport anymore, but I had lost confidence.”

Kyle Naughton

Signed from Sheffield United alongside Kyle Walker in a combined deal worth £9million in 2009, Naughton played 74 times for Tottenham across six years but never felt like a regular fixture of the starting XI.

The full-back joined Swansea for £5million in January 2015 and is still there now aged 33 having made over 250 appearances for the Swans.

Kyle Walker

Better than Kyle Naughton.

Dele Alli

Just think back to Dele in his imperious, early-Pochettino-years pomp. The strutting style, the Gazza-esque goals. He was a footballer who existed on another plane.

Yes, it went wrong in the end. But at £5million, it’s still fair to say this was an absolute steal.

READ: The scout who told Spurs to sign Bale on why Liverpool missed out on Alli

Kion Etete

Spurs fans can be forgiven for knowing little about Etete given he hasn’t played a game since signing from Notts County in 2019.

The 18-year-old was brought in following a successful trial, having made four appearances in League Two in 2018-19.

Niggling injuries have curtailed his progress in north London and he spent the 2021-22 season out on loan, scoring nine goals in 35 games between Northampton and Cheltenham.

Jack Clarke

The second player signed from Leeds United, Clarke remains something of an enigma.

After bursting onto the scene as an impact sub at Elland Road, Clarke’s form suffered after he collapsed on the bench during a game at Middlesbrough. But Spurs were still happy to pay £10million for the winger in July 2019.

He then rejoined Leeds on loan, only to struggle to make their matchday squad for Championship fixtures owing to the number of loanees on the books in West Yorkshire.

Further unsuccessful loans at QPR and Stoke followed, but Clarke seemed finally to find his feet again at Sunderland during the second half of the 2021-22 campaign, helping fire the Black Cats to promotion through the play-offs. Sunderland have reportedly opened talks to sign him permanently.

Jack Clarke of Sunderland during the Sky Bet League 1 match between Sunderland and Fleetwood Town at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Tuesday 8th March 2022.

READ: Jack Clarke’s laser assist: Ultimate proof he’s Sunderland’s perfect fit

Joe Rodon

Spurs fans had high hopes for Rodon when he joined from Swansea in October 2020. He was already a Wales international and had looked strong and composed in the Championship.

It really has not worked out, however.

Rodon managed a few appearances in the 2020-21 campaign under Jose Mourinho and then Ryan Mason and a few more during Nuno Espirito Santo’s short-lived reign. But after the arrival of Antonio Conte, he barely featured.

He is still a regular international and has plenty of interest from other Premier League clubs if reports are to be believed, so it may well be time to move on.


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